How Does the Coredemptrix Perform Her Role?
How can this be? How, actually, does Mary act as Coredemptrix all the time and in every place? In perfect obedience to the will of the Father, Mary 1. consents to the Incarnation of the Word of God; 2. offers her whole life for the salvation of humanity; 3. shares intimately in the Passion and death of her Son, suffering only as a Mother can; and 4. distributes the graces of Redemption as Mediatrix of All Graces and intercedes for humankind as Advocate.
First, Mary performs her role as Coredemptrix by freely consenting to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Redeemer of humanity. Mary’s generous “yes” to her divine motherhood was, as Dr. Josef Seifert explains, “necessary for our salvation, or played at least an indispensable part in the concrete way of our Redemption chosen by God.” (30) Does this mean that God could not have redeemed human beings in some other way? Certainly not! God is omnipotent. Yet, it is God’s will that “the greatest deed of God’s gracious love – the Redemption of mankind and our salvation – is in some real sense also the consequence of a free act of a woman and thus also the gift of a woman to humanity.” (31) Seifert continues, “…Mary’s act [of free consent] rendered our Redemption itself possible and thus mediated for mankind the most high gift of our divine Savior Himself.” (32) Mary is Coredemptrix, then, because she gave the world its Redeemer. She said yes to the beginning of the redemptive process, the Incarnation of the Word of God. (33)
Mary also said “yes” throughout her entire life, contributing to humanity’s Redemption every moment through her joys and sufferings in perfect faith, trust, and obedience as the Immaculate Mother of the God-Man. (34) Her entire life was a self-emptying sacrifice that allowed her to merit (see above), with Jesus Christ and subordinate to Him, the graces of Redemption. (35) All the pain she experienced as Mother of the Savior, the exile in Egypt, Simeon’s heart-piercing prophecy at the Presentation, the separation from Jesus when He was twelve years old, the false accusations against her Son during His public ministry, Mary offered to God, and as the Immaculata, she could do so perfectly, in association with her Son, for the Redemption of humanity. Mary’s “whole meritorious life” was one great act of coredemption. (36)
The coredemptive activity of Mary reached it climax on Calvary. It was at the foot of the Cross as she watched her Son die a torturous death to save humanity that Mary cooperated in Redemption to the utmost degree by “co-suffering” with Jesus, standing beside Him with compassion (literally, “suffering with”), and offering her suffering to the Father to acquire the graces of Redemption for humankind. (37) As Lumen Gentium #58 teaches, at the foot of the Cross, Mary “stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associated herself with His sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and loving consenting to the immolation of the Victim which was born of her.” (38) With courage and faith and with the greatest possible suffering, Mary surrendered her rights as a mother and sacrificed her own “maternal heart,” not seeking to protect her Son but, once again, saying “yes,” the most difficult “yes” of her life, to the salvific plan of God. (39) On Calvary, Mary was Coredemptrix to the highest degree, cooperating with her Beloved Son in His Passion and death to bring life to the human race.
Finally, Mary continues her coredemptive activity even after her Son’s Resurrection and Ascension and her own Assumption into heavenly glory. She does so in the order of “subjective Redemption,” distributing and interceding for the graces she helped merit in the process of “objective Redemption.” Mary, therefore, remains a Coredemptrix even as she performs her maternal roles as Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate. She is still helping her Son, Jesus, redeem the world by nourishing her spiritual children with saving grace and pleading for them before the throne of God. (40)
Why Is Mary the Coremptrix?
The last of the journalistic questions asks why Mary is the Coredemptrix. This has already been partially answered in the section on who Mary is. She can be Coredemptrix because she is the Immaculate Mother of God who is capable as no other person in the history of the world of cooperating with her Son in the acquisition, or meriting, of the graces of Redemption. Preserved from all stain of sin, pre-redeemed by her Redeemer Son, she could uniquely share in meriting the graces of ransom for her fellow creatures. (41) Moreover, her exclusive status as Immaculate Mother allowed her to be more united to the Persons of the Trinity than any other creature, giving her a unique share in God’s plan of salvation. Rev. Bertrand de Margerie observes, “The Trinity makes of Mary a participant in its salvific and redemptive will” as a created Coremptrix in perfect union with the “Three divine, uncreated Coredeemers,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (42) As the daughter of the Divine Father, Mary remains united to Him in perfect faith, love, and obedience. As the mother of the Son, Mary is joined to Jesus in a remarkably close union, causing St. Louise de Montfort to exclaim, “Since Jesus Christ chose her for the inseparable companion of His life, of His death, of His glory and of His power in Heaven and upon earth, He gave her by grace, relatively to His Majesty, all the same rights and privileges which He possesses by nature.” (43) As the spouse, instrument, and sanctuary of the Spirit, Mary is His inseparable companion, through whom He constantly works. (44) Existing as she does in such an inseparable union with the Trinity, how could Mary not participate fully and intimately in God’s redemptive activity? Finally, Mary is the Coredemptrix because God willed her to be so. (45) Quite simply, God designed His plan of salvation in a particular way for a particular time, and He created Mary to be an indispensible part of that plan.
The above journalistic exploration of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix has constructed something of a theological definition of this important position the Blessed Virgin occupies in the redemptive plan of God. The next three sections of this study will build upon that definition, providing evidence from Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium to support and amplify its claims. The Second Vatican Council’s Dei Verbum teaches that the first two sources, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, “make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God,” which the Magisterium serves, guards, listens to, and expounds. (46) The document continues, “…in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others.” (47) Support for Mary’s role as Coredemptrix must, therefore, be extracted from all three in order to clearly show how the Mother of God helped save the world.
30. Josef Seifert, “Mary as Coredemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces: Philosophical and Personalist Foundaitons of a Marian Doctrine,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 166.
31. Ibid., 167-168.
32. Ibid., 168.
33. Miravalle, “Whole Truth,” 3. Note: More on this concept will follow in the sections on the Annunciation and the early Church Fathers.
34. Gribble, 83, 88.
35. Most, 162.
36. Bertrand de Margerie, “Mary Coredemptrix: In the Light of Patristics,” in Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 38.
37. Calkins, “Liturgy,” 68.
38. Vatican II Council, “Lumen Gentium,” 417.
39. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, “Immaculate Mediatrix – Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 298.
40. Miravalle, introduction, xi.
41. Miravalle, “Whole Truth,” 29.
42. de Margerie, “Patristics,” 42; Bertrand de Margerie, “Redemption and Coredemption,” in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), 111.
43. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, trans. Frederick Faber (Rockford: Tan Books & Publishers, 1941), 46.
44. Manteau-Bonamy, 3, 4, 5.
45. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 12; Most, 165-166; Calkins, “Liturgy,” 49.
46. Vatican II Council, “Dei Verbum,” in The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery (Northport, N.Y.: Costello Publishing Company; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1998), 755-756.
47. Ibid., 756.